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EDFD687 Catering for Diversity in the Inclusive Classroom

Unit rationale, description and aim

Classrooms are inherently complex and diverse environments where each learner has unique strengths and needs. It is essential that all pre-service teachers develop and demonstrate expertise in identifying these unique strengths and needs and developing and delivering teaching and learning experiences that maintain high expectations for all students and optimise their individual learning.

This unit is designed to provide participants with knowledge and understanding of diversity and inclusive frameworks for addressing the diverse learning needs of individuals. Pre-service teachers will investigate theoretical perspectives, and international, national and state policies and legislation to understand and implement specific inclusive teaching strategies for all students with disabilities, behaviour disorders and difficulties in learning, and students from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander or non-English speaking backgrounds, and students with gifted and talented abilities.

The aim of this unit is to develop pre-service teachers’ knowledge, understanding, and skills in creating supportive inclusive classrooms and schools to meet the diversity educational needs of all students effectively. Individual states will place particular emphasis on one or more of these areas to reflect employment requirements.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Illustrate an in-depth knowledge and appreciation of diversity and the implications for learning of students’ physical, cultural, social, linguistic and intellectual characteristics with particular reference to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and EAL/D learners (GA1, GA5; APST 1.1, 1.2, 1.4)

LO2 - Articulate and critically examine the principles and current international, national and state policies and legislation regarding inclusion and special education, including students with disability, with analysis of the indicators of successful inclusive practice in whole school communities (GA3, GA5; APST 1.6, 7.2)

LO3 - Evaluate, synthesise and apply a range of techniques to assess students’ progress, and to record, report and interpret assessment data, to inform instructional programming decisions for students with diverse learning needs (GA1, GA3; APST 5.1, 5.4, 5.5)

LO4 - Apply the concept of a differentiated curriculum in the Secondary teaching area or Primary specialisation, including content, resources (including assistive technologies) and teaching and assessment strategies that are responsive to learning strengths and needs to support diverse student engagement in order to achieve learning outcomes for all students (GA1, GA3, GA5; APST 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 3.1, 3.2, 3.4, 4.1, 5.1)

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 


On successful completion of this unit, pre-service teachers should be able to:

1.1 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students and how these may affect learning.

1.2 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of research into how students learn and the implications for teaching.

1.3 Demonstrate knowledge of teaching strategies that are responsive to the learning strengths and needs of students from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.

1.4 Demonstrate broad knowledge and understanding of the impact of culture, cultural identity and linguistic background on the education of students from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds.

1.5 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of strategies for differentiating teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities. 

1.6 Demonstrate broad knowledge and understanding of legislative requirements and teaching strategies that support participation and learning of students with disability.

3.1 Set learning goals that provide achievable challenges for students of varying abilities and characteristics.

3.2 Plan lesson sequences using knowledge of student learning, content and effective teaching strategies.

3.4 Demonstrate knowledge of a range of resources, including ICT, that engage students in their learning.

4.1 Identify strategies to support inclusive student participation and engagement in classroom activities.

5.1 Demonstrate understanding of assessment strategies, including informal and formal, diagnostic, formative and summative approaches to assess student learning.

5.4 Demonstrate the capacity to interpret student assessment data to evaluate student learning and modify teaching practice.

5.5 Demonstrate understanding of a range of strategies for reporting to students and parents/carers and the purpose of keeping accurate and reliable records of student achievement.

7.2 Understand the relevant legislative, administrative and organisational policies and processes required for teachers according to school stage.


Topics will include: 

  • The principles and current international, national and state legislative requirements and policies on inclusion, disabilities, values education and safe schools 
  • Legislation and the major outcomes of the broader social justice movement linked to the principles of equity, access, participation and rights 
  • The nature of diversity, including students with disabilities, behaviour disorders and difficulties in learning, and students from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander or non-English speaking backgrounds, and students with gifted and talented abilities. 
  • Student resilience through pro-social school and classroom practices and embedding the teaching of social-emotional skills within the curriculum 
  • Curriculum knowledge to program effectively for the diverse students in every classroom with discussion of case studies on literacy, numeracy, language development and behaviour and applications to the Secondary teaching area or Primary specialisation, 
  • Adjustments to learning tasks/activities and assessment criteria, teaching strategies and the classroom environment to cater for all students, including students with disabilities 
  • Suitable class-based measurement and recording techniques to assess students’ progress and to guide appropriate instructional programming decisions for students with diverse learning needs 
  • Methods for interpreting student assessment data to evaluate student learning and to modify teaching practice 
  • Techniques for recording and reporting student assessment data for students with additional learning needs 
  • A range of diverse teaching and learning strategies and resources (including assistive technologies) to engage all students in learning, including verbal and non-verbal communication strategies 
  • Behaviour management strategies and social skills development in conjunction with instructional programs 
  • Strategies for effective collaboration with colleagues and parents to facilitate the effective inclusion of students with diverse learning needs 
  • A range of support networks and services at a class, school, system and community level to support the inclusion of students with disability and/or special needs, and students from culturally diverse, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-English speaking backgrounds 
  • The characteristics and skills required for effective collaborative consultation with a team of colleagues, support staff, external professionals and parents/carers to facilitate the effective inclusion of students with diverse learning needs, including those with disability and/or special needs. 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Delivery may be on-campus, online, or blended mode. The primary rationale for multiple modes lies in the fundamental structure of the course as part of an employment-based pathway. As participants in this unit will be working as employed first-year teachers in their placement school, multiple modes of delivery enable participants to learn concurrent with their professional responsibilities. This approach supports the employment-based pathway to create a continuous spiral of teaching, practice, and assessment within the authentic context of their teaching role. As a unit nested within the employment-based model of this course, praxis is the central organising principle for teaching and learning within the unit, such that pre-service teachers’ are provided with regular and consistent opportunities to apply the content within this unit to the context of their professional responsibility as a working teacher. This approach aims to develop pedagogical judgment alongside the essential skills, or core practices, that are critical in an employment-based pathway.

Developmentally, participants in this unit will first establish an in-depth knowledge of diversity in the secondary schooling context and implications for teaching, including principles, policies and legislation that affect students with diverse learning needs (LO1, LO2). Participant learning then progresses towards applied knowledge, with particular emphasis on the development of curriculum, resources, and teaching techniques that differentiate instruction to respond to the assessed learning needs of students and increase inclusion and opportunities for academic success for all students. As participants undertake authentic experiences in which they teach and critically evaluate their experiences enacting the content of the unit in their classrooms, they will develop not only their skills in this key area of teaching, they will also strengthen their judgment and capacity to make informed and effective decisions about how to better meet the diverse learning needs of all students in the future.

Unit content will be presented in a variety of teaching-learning modes and active participation in the learning process will be encouraged where possible through self-directed and problem-based learning experiences, as well as guided reflection. Through the adoption of a reflective approach to the teaching-learning process, participants will be encouraged to critically analyse their own learning approaches and preferences in relation to the content of the unit.

This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students must engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy. The learning and teaching strategies include a range of approaches to support your learning such as readings, reflections, discussions, webinars, podcasts, videos etc.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment tasks and their weightings are designed so that the pre-service teachers can progressively achieve the Course Learning Outcomes and the Professional Standards and is consistent with University assessment requirements.

The assessment will relate directly to the achievement of the outcomes above.  The assessment strategy for this unit is underpinned by the practical nature of this particular course, which provides a professional experiential context within which participants can produce evidence that they have successfully met unit learning outcomes (and by extension, that they have addressed the corresponding APST). Thus, each task is based on the development of authentic artefacts of teaching that highlight the progressive development of knowledge and skills within the unit and their application within professional experience.  The assessment strategy thus first aims to elicit evidence that participants have developed the requisite in-depth knowledge of diversity, inclusive frameworks, and approaches to developing an evidence-informed perspective on the diverse learning needs of an actual group of students. The assessment strategy then mirrors the progression of learning within the unit, such that participants will be expected to provide evidence of practice that builds on this theoretical and actual practical knowledge of diverse learning needs and reflects adjustments in curriculum, resources, and teaching strategies that respond to diverse learning needs and promote a more inclusive classroom for their actual students.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1  

This assessment task requires pre-service teachers to demonstrate knowledge of specific issues addressed in the learning outcomes through evidence-based responses to specific questions and/or problem scenarios related to 

  • Human rights and social justice 
  • Principles of inclusive schooling 
  • Collaborating with parents/carers, other staff members, relevant community organisations and representatives, and other professionals to improve student outcomes
  • Legislative requirements and teaching strategies that support participation and learning of students with disability.
  • The experience of students with disability and/or particular learning needs, with particular reference to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, ESL and EAL/D learners


LO1, LO2

GA1, GA3, GA5

Assessment Task 2 

Case study/Classroom planning for differentiating the curriculum (CTITE 7)

This case study will be conducted in the Secondary teaching area or Primary specialisation and will include:

  • Identification of social, learning, behaviour and physical environment needs and characteristics of an identified learner, and the impact these have on her/his learning.
  • Development of an overview of 10 differentiated learning activities catering for the strengths and needs of diverse learners, including learners from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-English speaking backgrounds, using frameworks and approaches such as Universal design for learning, Bloom’s taxonomy and multiple intelligences.
  • Development of two (2) of these activities into learning sequences for a whole class, indicating provisions/adaptations to cater to particular needs/strengths of identified learners and indicating a range of teaching strategies that will support students’ wellbeing and safety, and promote positive behaviour and support participation and learning for students with disability.
  • Creation of SMART goals and specific adaptations to resources, use of assistive technologies, content and pedagogy for the case study student. This section includes reference to relevant legislation and policy documents.
  • Development of appropriate assessment and reporting strategies, and demonstration of understanding how to interpret assessment data. 
  • Critical reflection on the success of inclusion in classrooms. 
  • Critical analysis of the inclusion of cooperative learning strategies to include students with differing needs.


LO1, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA3, GA5

Representative texts and references

Ashman, A., & Elkins, J.R. (Eds.). (2019). Education for inclusion and diversity (6th ed.). Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Education Australia.

DeCapua, A. (2016). Reaching students with limited or interrupted formal education through culturally responsive teaching, Language and Linguistics Compass, 10(5), 225–237.

Foreman, P., & Arthur-Kelly, M. (Eds.). (2017). Inclusion in action (5th ed.). South Melbourne, Vic: Cengage Learning Australia.

Harrison, N. (2016). Teaching and learning in Aboriginal education (3rd ed.). South Melbourne, Vic: Oxford University Press.

Hyde, M., Carpenter, L., & Conway, R. (Eds.) (2017). Diversity, inclusion and engagement. (3rd ed.). South Melbourne, Vic: Oxford University Press.

Loreman, T., Deppler, J., &Harvey, D. (2011). Inclusive education: A practical guide to supporting diversity in the classroom (2nd ed.). Crows Nest, NSW: Allen and Unwin.

McGrath, H., & Noble, T. (2010). HITS and HOTS. Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Education.

Mitchell, D. (2014). What really works in special and inclusive education: Using evidence-based teaching strategies (2nd ed.). London, England: Routledge.

Shaddock, A., Giocelli, L., & Smith, S. (2007). Students with disabilities in mainstream classrooms: A resource for teachers. Canberra: Australian Government.

Tomlinson, C. A. (2005). The differentiated classroom: Responding to the needs of all learners. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

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